Saturday, February 26, 2011

The volcanic wonderlands of Rotorua and Taupo

Straight after landing in New Zealand we took a car and drove to Rotorua, a volcanic area, still pretty active judging by the fumes, the many natural hot tubs around, and the wonderful smell of sulfur (I say wonderful, not because it smells good but because it allows one to fart, fairly discretely, and blame it on the volcano).
What color would you like your water today?
Rotorua was our first New Zealand home for 2 days. The hostel was very average and definitely below our expectations but the location was pretty central at least.
Around Rotorua we went to visit the thermal park of Wai-O-Tapu. It's a pretty neat park where we got to see many different manifestations of the underlying volcanic activity. If the smell wasn't really my favorite, the many colors of the rock and the water were definitely a highlight!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Photo challenge #0 and #1

Right when we left SF we asked on Facebook if you had ideas of stuff you wanted us to do while traveling, that we should do and take pictures of.

The very first one came from our friend Jacob. This one is actually not even part of the challenge since he made Denise promise him to take the photo, even before we asked everybody else.

The story is simple. He really insisted for her to take his frisbee with us on our trip so that she could play some while in Tahiti. Needless to say, we don't have that much extra space in our luggage, so after much arguing he made her promise she would find one in Tahiti and take a photo to prove she'd done it.
The photo is right here. And you were right Jacob, she's actually pretty good at it.

This is right in front of our pensioin on Mataiva

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Moorea, French Polynesia. No need to look further, it's in your backyard!

We really love our waterproof camera!
After spending some time on an Island of 200 people (see Vince's previous blog post),  we flew back to mainland Tahiti, jumped on the bus in stifling heat to city center in Papete, then took the ferry to Moorea, about 30-40 minutes.  It felt very populated comparitively... The island is bigger than the atoll we were on, but none of the islands there are really very big.  We then arrived at a resort that vaguely reminded me of the Four Seasons, in Hawaii, where we stayed for our honeymoon.  Vince had rented a lovely bungalow, as my belated Valentines day gift, just off the beach with an excellent pool, snorkeling gear, and the requisite terrible resort food.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The little paradise of Mataiva

I call it little because Mataiva is an atoll in French Polynesia, near Tahiti. It means that it's not even an island as it is a ring of sand with coconut trees everywhere and a blue lagoon in the middle. It's a whole 22km round... yeah... little.
Sand, coconut trees, and lagoon
We went there after spending a day in Papeete to wait for the twice-a-week flight that goes to Mataiva. (There are only 200 people living there so they don't really need more than that). That day gave us time to adjust to the time difference. Not that we really had to though. It's only 2 hours of difference from San Francisco but the fact that they get up at 5am there (the market of Papeete even starts at 3am on sundays) makes it that we pretty much kept the same schedule as in SF. Pretty convenient!

Friday, February 11, 2011

On the road again

One of the beautiful sunsets over San Francisco

I'm writing those lines in the Air Tahiti Nui plane that is taking us from Los Angeles to Papeete (Yeah, I think we picked a good first stop). But it is so much more than just those destinations. It is also taking us from San Francisco where I've lived for 10 grand years and Denise 7, and the USA which is also Denise's home and became mine. And it is bringing us to a big trip, which is sure to amaze and test us, on our way to France, a place that even for me is very much foreign. I've never worked there and haven't lived there since I finished school. I can't imagine how much more daunting it is for Denise, who accepted to try this adventure with me. If that's not love... I don't know what is.

The last months and weeks have been pretty much a whirlwind for me. I've worked all the way until the end, with only one day off before my vacation (terrible, i know :). We moved out of our apartment 2 months ago already and most of our belongings are on a ship, somewhere on the ocean on their way to France. We've been couch surfing for a month, thanks to wonderful friends that have very generously hosted us as we were hopping from house to house every 3 or 4 days.
With all this: work, moving around, trying to plan the rest of our trip, closing all our bills, selling my motorcycles, changing addresses, doing the taxes... I haven't really realized we just left this place for good. I think it's going to take some time, especially since it's gonna be a while before we reach France itself and have to look ahead again.
Saying goodbye to all the friends has been very real though, but I've been living in a foreign country for so long, away from some of my friends, that I just assume I'll see them again, and again, and again... It is reassuring, but goodbyes have never been my forte. Denise found the right way to do it: "See you soon in France!" she says, and I sincerely hope we get to see many come visit us. We'll definitely do our best to come visit SF again (and the famous 5 weeks of french vacations will definitely help in that regard) but the move will be a strange time.
Today is the first day of a very different time in our lives. I know there's a lot of good awaiting us, and god knows where we'll be 10 years from now. One thing is for sure... I have no idea. It's scary, but maybe that's ok.